Cold snap in China's northern Hebei province

Early snow blanketing the fields of Handan, in China's northern Hebei province, in an aerial shot taken on Sunday.

The climate phenomenon known as La Nina brought early snow to the province amid plunging temperatures across northern China on the weekend, leading to traffic disruptions, flu outbreaks and power cuts as the country struggles with the worst energy crisis in a decade.

Other parts of China also experienced the winter's first major snowfall and rain, the China Meteorological Administration said in a notice on Sunday.

It issued the winter's first snowstorm orange alert, the second-highest level, that same day.

The national weather service also said north-eastern provinces were likely to experience more major snowfall in the coming days, and the cold waves would move southwards and hit most of China.

The first snow in the capital Beijing - which will host the Winter Olympics in February - was also 23 days earlier than average, according to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

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